Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Catholic in a Buddhist Temple, Part 3

Bald Saffron
All life is pain.
Pain is desire
We are like the rain
Falling on the fire
We hold our place
Some glue
Some kneel
Some beg
And some will never understand
The gluers
The kneelers
The beggars
Because they themselves
See only gluing
And kneeling
And begging
And themselves.
The Gluer does not see the glue.
The Kneeler does not see his knees.
The Beggar does not see the coin.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Catholic in a Buddhist Temple, Part 2

Fish Smell

Today is the day.
At last, I’ve saved enough
From selling fish to white men
For years, but now
I can pay
For the train ticket, and a meal, and even though it’s tough
I’ll squeeze out enough
For a lucky Buddha to bring home for my wife.
I have waited so long
But my faith has made me strong
And on this, the greatest day of my life
I will finally go
And kneel
At the Lord Buddha’s feet
And feel
Humming through my bones the sweet
Everlasting drone of the holy men
Who do not fish
Or marry or spend
But beg and pray, as I wish
I could do.
But this is where I am.
For me this is enough.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Catholic in a Buddhist Temple, Part 1

I wrote a four part poem after visiting some Buddhist Temples in Bangkok and reading T. S. Eliot's "Four Quartets." The poetry is not great, but I was trying to experiment with a new style.

A Catholic in a Buddhist Temple, Part 1

Wife Beater Tan Lines.

“The schedule is tight. There is barely time
To throw an arm over my homeboy Buddha’s shoulder for a snapshot
With a peace sign thrown up (Buddhist’s are into peace aren’t they?) The climb
Was pretty stiff, but I can check that off my list. My friends are going to freak
At my new profile pic. It will certainly lend authority to my future opinions
(Loudly proclaimed over beer) about what Asians believe, next week
When this vacation is over and I am back in Jersey, working nine to five.
Then off for hot dogs and sunscreen. I don’t know how they do it
The shave headed monks in their orange robes. They’ll probably never survive
Their inevitable brush with skin cancer, but maybe I can get a picture
With them before they go.
Do you think there’s a bar in this town that serves some decent beer?

“And what do you think of that dude we saw, kneeling with his face on the floor
At the foot of the golden Buddha? Looked like a cross between
A hippie and a bum, and smelled like fish. Why would they even let him in the door?
Not that it’s any of my business, you know, if these people don’t believe in baths.
But you know, it kind of detracts from the atmosphere. You know what I mean?
And from the look of this town they need all the atmosphere they can get. Just do the math
And you’ll see that tourism keeps this place alive. So I would think
They’d want to keep the tourists coming, to keep the dollars flowing
And if they want that, they might want to do something about the stink.
Just saying.

I will say this for the little folks, they sure know how to make a tourist trap.
How many of the little brown guys do you think it took? I mean you look at those walls
How many millions of squares of glass glued on by hand? And look at the map
There’s a temple like that every few miles. That’s a lot of glue.
You can do a lot with cheap labor like that. Wal-Mart is a good example
Of what a little initiative and lot of bored Asian peasants can do.
It must be a national pastime for them, gluing tiny things together
I mean what else is there to do for fun around here?
And don’t even get me started about the weather.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Facebook video of my cousin Emily playing the harp in the DC Metro. Enjoy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another Way, Part 3

This is the last in a series of reflections on the individual warrior's approach to inter-personal violence. You can read the previous parts here, here, here, and here.

The first stage in a warrior's development is when his primary motivation is the challenge presented by the enemy. Through proper education, however, he will have other loves, and hopefully some of these other loves will supersede (without eradicating) his love for adventure. Then he can enter into the second stage, which is where he really doesn't care about the enemy at all, but primarily about what he is protecting. This is the stage described by G. K. Chesterton in the words, "The Christian soldier fights, not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." This is sufficient to make a warrior a just warrior, though it has its possible abuses. But there is another stage yet.

My first clue that there might be another stage came from the life of Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was the greatest swordsman in the history of Japan, and the author of "The Book of Five Rings." He fought in over sixty duels in his lifetime, killing all of his opponents, and also survived four major battles. After his last duel, in which he killed his opponent with nothing more than a wooden oar he had carved into a rough sword shape, he gave up dueling to the death. Although he fought a few more times after that, he did not kill any more, and simply demonstrated his unmatchable superiority, before letting his opponents go.

According to one legend, in the later years of his life he was meditating on a river bank in the company of his friend who was a Buddhist monk. While they were sitting there, an adder came winding his way up the riverbank towards them. The deadly serpent took no notice of the monk at all, slithering right across his lap, so at one with his surroundings was he. When he came to Musashi, however, the snake reared back, hissed, and made a wide circle around him before heading on his way. Musashi lamented that for all his power, he could not enjoy the peace and unity enjoyed by this simple monk. It is said that the monk was also able to defeat Musashi in a mental duel, using only a fan.

The idea that such a masterful warrior (who certainly could never have been accused of any semblance of gentleness) would renounce his life of bloodshed and practice the martial arts only for spiritual enlightenment was astounding to me. But I saw parallels with many other stories of famous warriors (Sir Lancelot being the most famous) who, having acheived undeniable superiority over all other warriors of their time, abandoned the martial life to pursue religious life. And it made sense. Certainly it would be the most skillful fighter who figured out first that no matter how good he was, it still did not fulfill him deep down inside.

The second clue, tying into the first one, came from reading the pacifist posts of @SirNickDon here on xanga. I began to see the deep points of contact between his pacifist vision and my Way of the Warrior. Because, of course, he is absolutely right, God does love every single person in the world, including the murderers and child-rapists. He longs for their good, and works for their healing, and it is a tragedy for them to die in their sin (fortunately I cannot judge their souls.)

So the third step in the evolution of the just warrior is to see the enemy as God sees Him, which means to love him; to pray for him as he cannot pray for himself; to respect his humanity, even though he fails to respect his own; to work for his healing with all your strength.

But this does not change the charism (if I may use the word) of the Warrior. It only throws it into terrible relief. The Warrior is not charged with punishing the evildoers of the world, but only with protecting the innocent. However, in order to protect the innocent, the guilty must be restrained and sometimes they must be restrained physically, and sometimes the only way to do that is with lethal force.

Central to the position of the committed pacifist is the belief that we are not qualified to judge which human life is more important than any other. The spontaneous sympathy we feel for an abused child and consequent disgust for the abuser is essentially an illusion. In God's eyes they are both equal.

It is here that I have to broaden the view a little bit. While it is quite certain that God loves both the abuser and the abused equally, it is also quite certain that He does not treat them identically in the long run. It is also quite certain that He calls us to treat them differently, i.e. to protect the victim and restrain the abuser. There is a tension here between the eschatological reality of the Kingdom and the physical reality of the fallen world we live in. It is somewhat analagous to the role of marriage in the Kingdom. Here on earth marriage is a gift, a glory and a calling. In heaven they neither marry nor are given in marriage, and all Christians, of whatever calling, are called upon to remember both of these truths. The balance of the Church in some ways depends upon there being two separate groups of people, each committed to living out a different aspect of the nature of human sexuality. The vast majority are called to live in married life, remembering that it is only a temporary arrangement. The few are called to live in celibacy as a foretaste of that eternal arrangement (whatever it may be) while still remembering that marriage is a holy and beautiful expression of the same gift.

In a similar way, all people are called upon to confront the reality of abuse in their lives. For many it is not dramatic physical abuse, but the challenge remains the same. In the reality of the world we live in something must be done to stop these things from happening. They must be resisted, and sometimes physically resisting them is the only way to stop them. At the same time, n the eyes of God, the abusers are just as precious as their victims, and this too must be remembered and lived out in the world. It is from this that I believe the charism of the committed pacifist arises. It is the need to bear witness to the deeper understanding, and the promised Kingdom. So I essentially see the two charisms, the Way of the Warrior and the Way of Pacifism, not as competitive but as mutually necessary and supportive.

The contribution of pacifism to the Way of the Warrior is that it deepens his love and respect for the enemy. It makes him realize that, when he has to kill some bad man to keep him from doing bad things, in truth the man was not born to be bad. He was born to be good. He was born to know, love and serve God, called to unimaginable glory and beauty. The fact that a human being was killed is a tragedy but it is not the worst tragedy. The worst tragedy is that he wasted his life, squandering countless opportunities for good in pursuit of power, pleasure, or hatred. The tragedy is that he was wounded so fundamentally that all his choices summed up led him to this end, the wreckage of all the he was capable of. The warrior's act of killing him is simply the end of a long and heartbreaking story, and in a way can be seen as a last act of respect for the man he might have been. It prevents him from doing anything worse to himself (which in and of itself is not a justification for killing, but merely an alternate way of looking at something justified on quite other grounds.)

So essentially all wars are family quarrels. When I intervene as a warrior I am restraining my brother to keep him from hurting a younger sibling. If I had to, I would kill him, but only if that were the only way, and always with the realization that I have killed my brother.

Those are the three stages I have seen so far. I don't think that is the end of the journey, however. After all, I'm only 27.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another Way, Part 2

Sorry these are coming slowly and painfully. Truthfully it's only partially because I'm busy. Mostly I just don't feel like writing anything serious right now. I would rather read Dr. Seuss out loud to a bunch of kids. It would be a lot more fun.

The second part of the development of a warrior is when he forgets all about the enemy. Or, to put it another way, the enemy ceases to be important to him. This is not automatic. As a very young boy or teenager (the actual age can vary greatly depending on maturity and life-experience) the enemy is the primary reason for wanting to fight. A man can go his entire life as little more than a philosophical brawler if he does not move beyond this. Fortunately, the world being what it is, there are limits placed on the use of force, both in every day life and in international affairs. This means that there are consequences for actions of violence, so in order for a man to engage in them on a regular basis (and not end up in jail) he has to have a reason and a justification.*

So if he is serious about pursuing the challenge of the enemy, he has to find a path, which in our society is pretty much limited to the military and the police. (I personally have known many soldiers who claim to have told their recruiter, "I just want to shoot M----- F-----s in the face and not go to jail.") The military, while enabling and honing these traits, also puts controls on them, and most important to this topic, provides a justification. The only problem is that it is external justification, meaning it is entirely based on the authority of the superior officers and the consequences that could be visited on a violater by society.

In order for a warrior to develop personally he must develop his own internal controls on violence. That is, he must have his own personal moral code, which he is fully invested in. This is not automatic. It cannot come to our philosophical brawler who just wants to live a life of adventure. It can come only to someone who loves something else, besides adventure. (This is the reason why training in the gentler arts of life is a far more effective and useful response to boyish testosterone than repression.) The young man who loves art, or poetry, or his family, will eventually have to make a decision as to why he really wants to fight. Is it just about the adventure? Or is it to protect something else he loves even more? The two are not entirely mutually exclusive, but eventually one must predominate. A balanced character (hearkening back to his martial education as a child) will have other loves, and if he eventually chooses those loves as most important, he will have successfully made the transition into the second stage.

This second stage is marked by a complete lack of animosity, or personal interest of any kind, in the enemy. His love is simply that which he wants to protect. As he gets older and wiser, he will learn to desire, not only to protect, but also to enjoy it himself. A young man who admires family life, and wants to fight to protect the ability of others to have such a quiet family life, will eventually learn to love that life in its own right. He will not simply want to protect the good, but also to enjoy the good. (He may still choose to sacrifice that enjoyment so that others may have it, but it isn't truly a sacrifice until he has learned to appreciate it enough that he desires it himself.) This is why he doesn't hate the enemy. He just wants this good thing to be safe, that's all. He just wants the enemy to stop being a threat to his village, or his family, or his country, and he doesn't particularly care how that happens. If we convert all the enemy and they shave their heads and live as monks for the rest of their days, that suits him fine. If he shoots them all in the face, that also is an acceptable outcome. Whatever is the most effective way to protect what he loves, that is what the warrior at this stage wants.

The most dangerous abuse of this stage of development is the business like soldier. This is the soldier who is willing to take any advantage, use any technology, break any rule or kill any number of innocent civillians (not intentionally of course) to acheive victory. The American military has historically tended to this extreme. It's not personal, it's just business, and we are good at business. From the fire-bombing of Dresden and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the impersonal snuffing out of lives via satellite controlled drones, we want only one thing: we want to win, quickly, with the least amount of damage to our side. Which is admirable, but can easily degenerate to a lack of respect for human life, if that life is not "us".

*Note: this holds true for our society, right now, but other societies in other times have not been so restrictive. While there have always been consequences for violence, historically there has often been a lot more wiggle-room in avoiding or dealing with them.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Another Way, Part 1

There is another way for a soldier to deal with the reality of his job. Thus far I think there is only one true way for a soldier to remain a soldier and not be in danger of diminishing his own humanity. It cannot be a question of a trick of dealing with something essentially bad. It must instead be a matter of finding and embracing the truly good in a vocation, while slowly, over time, paring away any evil that has become attached to it.

This other way (so far as I can see) follows three steps, or stages. The first is to be in love with the enemy. The second is to forget the enemy. The third is to love the enemy.

This may seem like a strange way of putting it, to be “in love” with the enemy, but it is the most basic and most natural reason for being a warrior. Just like the most natural reason for climbing a mountain is sheer love of the mountain, so the beginning of a call to knighthood is the fascination of the adventure. The knight rides into the forest and challenges the dragon, not because he has any particular malice toward the dragon. In fact, it is truer to say that he is passionately in love with the dragon, because the dragon represents a challenge, an opponent worthy of his strength and skill. Something in him needs to fight a fight and he sees the dragon (or the giant, depending on the myth) the same way an artist sees a blank canvas, or a sailor sees a tall ship and a star to steer her by. This is a very natural thing. I would say it is at least a part of the natural makeup of nearly every boy, though it is stronger in some than in others. The boy born with this instinct at its strongest is generally going to be a handful. He is the boy who always wants to fight or wrestle or make wooden swords and play knight or play commando in the woods with guns. Of course every boy does these things from time to time, but for this particular boy these things are a borderline obsession, or at least the deepest theme in his play. He may drive his mother crazy by always getting into fights or getting scratched and bruised in mock battles, or constantly having sharp sticks swinging in the vicinity of his eyes. Some mothers will even try to suppress this type of play, fearing their son will grow up to be a gangster, but I believe this is a mistake. In this kind of violent play there is nothing cruel or malicious. A boy like this has no ill will towards any of his opponents, and in fact seeks the same boys out to fight again and again. In his mind the competition is a deep form of cooperation in which every boy tests and strengthens himself against every boy. He is not a bully or a thug. He may indeed have an almost ridiculous sense of fair play which would be a liability to a bully.

This instinct is what you make of it. It is simply raw material. It can be a vehicle for a boy learning to use his instincts to dominate those weaker than himself, or to protect those weaker than himself. If he grows up unbalanced by training in gentler arts he will certainly end up a loud-mouthed, rough mannered, though perhaps good hearted tough guy. The experiences and guidance he is give may be able to shape and nurture that instinct but they will never be able to suppress it safely. A fighter’s instinct can remain at this stage indefinitely, as many of the higher pagan warriors of history are examples. These higher pagan warriors are marked by a deep respect for their enemy, which probably reached its most extreme expression with the samurai. A samurai considered it a great honor to cut an enemy’s head off after he had ritually disemboweled himself, to prevent him the shame of grimacing in pain. Homer’s Illiad is full of both the heights and the depths of this instinct, and with Hector even an example of something like the second stage of the warrior’s development. Anything like an in depth analysis of that basic level instinct, both at its highest and at its lowest is far beyond the scope of this blog, but should be an essential part of the education of any warrior.

Alas, there is no comprehensive training for the modern warrior.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Impersonal Warfare

In my last post I talked about sneering and mistrust as the natural way for a soldier to deal with the reality of his work. The vast majority of modern wars (with significant exceptions) are matters of masses of anonymous men seeking out and killing masses of other anonymous men. That, at least, is how it seems from the point of view of those who run the wars, and many of the people who prosecute those wars. This too, is a psychological defense mechanism. Wiping out a blip on a computer screen or a little green shape on the drone’s camera is such an impersonal thing, which, I firmly believe, is the real reason for the modern emphasis on super-technology in war. It is not because of the practical effectiveness (it is, on the whole, immensely impractical) but because of the psychological leverage it gives us.

Things are not so sterile for the front line soldier. Faced with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, a yelling voice, and the sensory reality of sweat and blood on the body, the front line soldier cannot hide behind computers. Instead he has to resort to a more primitive method of psychological distancing. He has to convince himself that the enemy is somehow less than he is. Anything can be used as leverage for this “othering” of the enemy. Skin color is an old favorite, but uniforms will do. Language is a solid choice, carrying as it does connotations of a whole alien culture. Specific habits of the enemy, can be subtle proof of inferiority. (Iraqis usually squat instead of sitting to answer the call of nature. Therefore we are superior to them.) Real or imagined wrongs done by the enemy to people I somehow identify with are the best leverage of all, because it provides not merely a psychological but as pseudo-moral justification for violence. It is justice, meted out by the soldier. This is also a useful handle for demonizing anyone on our side who proposes a more moderate course.

The end result, the goal and object of this process, is the othering, the de-humanization, the objectifying of the enemy, in order to make him easier to kill. Sometimes this rhetoric is at least subjectively sincere. The person spouting it really believes it. More often I suspect it is a bastardized attempt to cover up the psychological damage of hating another person. The louder the rhetoric, the more I suspect it is only skin deep. The really dangerous person is the one who believes it so completely he doesn’t feel like it needs to be explained.

This is a brief, rough sketch of a reaction to the impersonal violence of modern warfare (personal violence is something else entirely. It is the natural refuge of men who are no more than cogs (albeit willing cogs) in a machine that cares little more for them than for the people it wields them against. (This should not be understood as an indictment against impersonal government. That should be discussed separately, but after a certain point, all human government has to be impersonal. It’s part of the nature of government.)

But as I said, I believe there is another way, although it is not open to most people. I’ll get to it in another post.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why I Pray for Peace

When I was a teenager I dreamed of getting into a firefight, or a standup knife-fight to the death. I dreamed of being a combat hero and killing hundreds of enemies singlehandedly. I wanted to kill a bad guy because, in my mind, that represented some sort of rite of passage into warriorhood. It is strange, a little funny, and a little sad, to look back at that and see how much I’ve changed.

At the ripe old age of 27 I don’t think that desire of my younger self was totally wrong. In fact I would go so far as to say it was tremendously right, and could not have been any other way, without weakening my character a great deal. I still maintain that it is a very good thing for a young man (such as myself) to look forward to a fight out of the sheer joy of fighting. I trust that adventurous instinct. Someone who fights for the joy and excitement of fighting is much closer to the truth than someone who does violence out of malice. It is more likely to produce courage, honor, and freedom of spirit, while malice, even non-violent malice, can produce only backbiting, hatred, injury and death.

So the blood and vinegar me was a natural part of my development, and is still a part of my character. I still think fights are fun once you get into them, but the difference is that I don’t want to get into a fight. I have much to learn, but nothing left to prove against any human being out there.

There are so many younger soldiers who are lamenting the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. They feel cheated, like they missed their chance. Some boldly hope out loud that we go to war with Iran or North Korea. Oh God in Heaven, please no! If it must be, then I will do what I must, but I pray with all my heart that it never happens. It isn’t that I am afraid of being killed or wounded. I have faced that before and will face it again. By God’s grace I have never yet backed down or failed my mission. It’s just that there would be so much killing. So much pain. So much hatred. The hatred is what really frightens me. My soul shrinks back from it, like my naked flesh would shrink back from an acid bath. It hurts. It stings and suffocates. Hatred of me by other people is not so bad. It definitely hurts, but the fighting spirit I was born with rebels and tosses it back. I refuse to be damaged by it (but might not that refusal itself be damaging?) But hatred of others is far worse. A war is always a breeding ground for hate. The Iraqis hate us, because of the lies they have been told, and all too often because of the truth they have seen. Americans despise Iraqis because they haven’t discovered sit-down toilets yet. They hate them because it was an Iraqi who blew up their buddy. They bitterly wish that we could nuke the whole Middle East. The sneering and mistrust, and the sense of righteousness in sneering and mistrusting is the drug of choice in a combat zone. How else could we do what we are told to do? There is a way, but it is not open to most.

And all the people who would be killed. I have never desired the death of any person. Even when I was spoiling for a fight, it was not the death of the enemy that I wanted. I saw a challenge (he wants to kill me) and my spirit rose in response (Bring it!) But if I do have to kill someone (and make no mistake I will if I have to) what a waste! Every human being was born beautiful, alive, practically bursting with hidden promise, called to inexpressible glory. How much good is each human soul capable of? And each one is not a nameless, faceless, number in a vast sea of other people. That is now who he is in the eyes of God, and therefore that is not who he is to me. That person, my enemy over there, has been loved into existence by the Holy Trinity. He is unique, absolutely unrepeatable. In all time and space, past, present, and future, and through all eternity, he is the only one there is. There can never be another. What a tragedy! All the good that he was capable of, gone. All that he might have been, gone. No second chance, no do-over. There will never be another one of him to pick up the slack.

How could this be a good thing? How could this be subject for celebration?

It may seem strange that it is a soldier who thinks of all of this and puts it in words, but it should not be strange at all. Who else would have cause to think about it? And how could you stand to go through life as a soldier constantly shoving it under the rug? If you have never looked at what you do, squarely and honestly, and asked what it means, then you should not be doing it.

So I look and I ask, and I answer. I will not always be a soldier, but I have been called to be a warrior, because, as much as the idea of human violence fills me with sadness, there is something else which matters even more deeply. I don’t particularly want to kill anyone, but all my life I have wanted to protect everyone. I want people to live and be free, to be happy and find the greatness they were created for, and the sad truth is that too many cannot. Especially the children, born into worlds of violence, or brutally stolen from their homes, their innocence destroyed, their futures obliterated before they had even a chance to see them; these children need someone to protect them, and sometimes to protect an innocent person a guilty person must die.

But I want him to die like a human being. Even in death I can never despise him, but I must instead afford him the respect he never afforded to himself. Hopefully that way, in some small measure, I can restore some of his humanity. At least, let me not lose mine.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Lenten Life

There is a certain comic heroic air
In a sidelong view of my silly petulance.
Clattering down in calamitous dusty thunder
Pasteboard cards demand to be rebuilt
Despite the dismay of the ruins of all that is.
But all that is, is far too big for me
I cannot bear too much of it at a time.
What is, is through nothing else but love
Meted out in generous frugality;
Forth from the Eternal Moment, cut to size
To fit the confines of restrictive time.
What is is greater praise than what is not
Diapers changed than greatness dreamed about;
And what is asked is greater than what is done
The mop demanded than the chosen Mass.
And so what is (this mop bucket) Is Indeed.
And here, and now, and nowhere else, all Grace,
All Strength, All Peace, All Joy, All Love, is found.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What I mean by Knighthood

There are some who complain about the emphasis on "chivalry" in the Church, seeing at as a mechanism for women to abuse men, and a smokescreen for men to use women. Some would even say that many men espouse knighthood as nothing more than a cover for objectification. I disagree. I would say that finding a man who espouses true old-fashioned knighthood is very rare indeed, if only for the general lack of martial ability. Martial prowess, or at least the lifelong pursuit of martial prowess, was an essential element of that knighthood (as opposed to modern knighthood which has nothing martial about it.) So a modern day knight, in order to follow the old code, ought at least to train in a martial art and be proficient with a gun. This is one of the problems with the modern shadowy "knighthood" that everyone talks about incessently, is that it is incomplete. They emphasize only the soft, gentle, velvet side of the fully masculine character of the knight. So we have men who endlessly preach the "warrior poet" ideal, who couldn't throw a decent punch to save their lives (or anyone else's life for that matter.) And even that basic ability is a far cry from the simple definition of a warrior, which is one who studies the arts of war and uses them.

So when I say that I pursue the concept of knighthood in a modern world, I mean that I literally practice the art of killing other human beings. I literally meditate on my own death and prepare for it on a daily basis. I actually pursue an elite physical fitness, coupled with martial arts training, and all the other arts of modern combat. I study and meditate on Just War doctrine, and the Theology of the Body, and various forms of pacifism and constantly refine my moral code which determines where, and when, and how I can justly kill. It has cost me a decade of my adult life to pursue this ideal, and it is still the underlying principle of everything I do. This is what I mean by knighthood; not that I have attained it, but that I pursue it every day, and most especially that it is not some vague collection of moral platitudes couples with archaic civil niceties. It requires the pursuit of real skills. When I say that I pursue knighthood, I mean that I can literally snap a man's neck with my bare hands, and I can literally rock a baby to sleep with those same hands. So if being civil and making a steady paycheck are all you've ever heard of "chivalry" then All you've ever heard is a waste of breath. Holding a door for a lady is meaningless if that is the extent of a man's chivalry. Valentine's day is bosh, if you don't have a soul of steel.

I think this is why I never really see eye to eye with many bloggers on the question of chivalry. To me it is a way of life, a virtue encompassing the pursuit of all virtues. It is a balance of extremes; the measured, committed, unswerving development of excellence in both extremes of masculinity. I pursue it for it's own sake, and for the sake of God, who calls me to it, and I don't much care whether any woman alive approves or disapproves. I accept and appreciate the support and encouragement of women who pursue their own femininity with the same dedication, but I don't give the naysayers a second thought. Truth be told, while most women approve the ideal on paper, in my experience, most are at least a little frightened by it in real life. Especially if they are not pursuing their own calling with the same determination, they are sometimes even totally put off. you see knighthood, when pursued in its entirety, makes you totally other. It makes you something that is not in any way more like a woman, but something that is unmistakeably and unflinchingly other. It doesn't take long for most women to get past the initial approval and realize that this ideal might just be more than they bargained for. It might get their man killed someday. It will certainly make him inaccessible on some level. In some ways he will always be beyond her influence. It means while she will always have his devotion and his love, she can never have all of his heart. In a word, he is "Not a Tame Lion." Loving a man like this requires a strength of femininity unlike any other for she will certainly have to die many times over in the course of their life together.

This kind of knighthood is my ideal. I take it very seriously indeed, having devoted my entire life thus far to the pursuit of that ideal. This might explain why sometimes all the angst over the place of "chivalry" in the Christian blogosphere seems like much ado about nothing to me.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Waves and the Meaning of all Things

Born and weaned from his mother’s breasts,
Each one travels, rises, crests,
Spending the flower of his strength in joyful waste
Tumbling over himself in ordered haste
To reach
The beach
And be
No more.